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Premier League teams up with village soccer craze

China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-29 09:40
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GUIYANG — A two-day visit by an English Premier League delegation to promote future soccer cooperation with the Village Super League, dubbed "Cun Chao" by Chinese netizens, came to an end on Monday in Rongjiang county, Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture, Southwest China's Guizhou province.

"I think 'Cun Chao' is great, and I have felt the locals' great passion for football here in Rongjiang," said Graham Robinson, a representative of the delegation and an international consultant of the EPL.

Robinson hoped that the cooperation on soccer training and other related fields between the two leagues could improve, based on their in-depth understanding of Rongjiang's soccer situation gained through the visit.

The delegation visited primary and secondary schools such as Guizhou No 2 Primary School and Gaopai Primary School, observed a friendly match between two VSL teams, and talked with VSL players, coaches and referees.

"The purpose of the delegation's visit is to better understand the current situation of Rongjiang's soccer to better help promote its soccer development," said Peng Xixi, head of the VSL operation and management office.

According to Peng, the VSL, which blew up on the internet this summer and drew the attention of the nation, helped Rongjiang attract more than 5.19 million tourists, generating revenue of 5.99 billion yuan ($837 million) from May 13 to Oct 28 this year.

The delegation marveled at the huge economic and social benefits in Rongjiang, mainly produced as a result of the VSL, and got to better understand the passion for soccer displayed by Rongjiang locals.

"During the period of the VSL, I went to Rongjiang to watch matches and I was deeply impressed by the lively scenes and the influx of spectators attracted by the competitions," said Warren Leat, a delegation member, and also football development manager at the British Council, who will return to Rongjiang in mid-December to hold training sessions for local players and coaches.

This was Robinson's first trip to Guizhou, and he was deeply impressed by the locals' passion for the game.

"I was so impressed by the students' passion for football, and also by the training methods of their football coach, and also their school principal Wu Dongsheng," he said.

After the friendly match between the two VSL teams, both Robinson and Leat went onto the field, shook hands with the players and encouraged them with praise.

"Well done today, it's really great to see you all playing football with such great passion," said Leat, adding that he hoped they could continue to maintain their enthusiasm, tactics and teamwork spirit.

Robinson was glad to find that the VSL had empowered the locals.

"Sports teach people life skills and promote people's development. So let's see what will happen in our future cooperation with the VSL," said Robinson.


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